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Orion Pax

Transformers Generations
by yo go re

Forget what Patton Oswalt said: sometimes it's cool to see where the stuff you love comes from.

Long before the burden of leadership was forced upon him, Orion Pax was a great thinker and an intellectual revolutionary. He spent his life plugged into a console sorting, parsing and filing historical data. As the world outside grew darker and more bleak, he saw hope for the future in his world's past. He saw, when no one else would, that Cybertron could once again be free - and he has clung to that dream even through the dark times since.

Technically, this isn't the first Orion Pax figure there's been. In 2005, Japanese online retailer e-Hobby released an exclusive repaint of Kup (which is the same set we mentioned a few weeks ago, because it also included a smaller robot meant to be Roller). But are you really going to count that? It's a repaint. No matter how clever the re-use, no matter how well it worked, it was still just a repaint. This figure was meant to be Orion Pax from day one, so it gets bonus points for that.

The concept of Orion Pax being the pre-Optimus Prime was introduced in G1, and back then he had a completely un-Optimus-y head. The modern take on that is to give him a head that has all the usual Optimus Prime hallmarks - the forehead crest, the ear-spikes, all that - but instead of a mouthplate, he has a real face.

The body is entirely unique, though. The first few times he showed up in the IDW comics, he had a body that took its influence from the War Within design, mixed with the classic. This one, which was designed by artist Guido Guidi, owes a lot more to the original cartoon design, such as the single, large glass window on the chest. Of course, that mas just a plain blue panel, while this one is clear plastic with sculpted details behind it. There are panels on the outside of his legs that have sculpted pistons and gears, suggesting depth. There are yellow triangles on his forearms, and while he doesn't have vents on his shins, he does have lots of nice sculptural details on his limbs.

Thanks to the red and blue colorscheme, there's no mistaking that this is meant to be an Optimus Prime. Well, an Optimus Prime in the making. He has a balljointed head, hips and ankles; swivels at the shoulder, biceps, wrists, waist, and thighs; and hinges at the shoulders, wrists and knees. That's enough articulation to really have fun playing around with his included weapons, a chunky black blaster designed like his old familiar gun, and an axe with a black handle and a technological-looking translucent orange blade. He can even use the axe double-handed, if you want!

Although Guido Guidi designed an altmode to go along with his version of Orion Pax, it isn't the one that was used in the comic or for this toy. Conversion is easy to get the hang of, with the arms tucking away behind the cab, and the legs wrapping around to form both the back end and the front end, as improbable as that sounds.

Orion still turns into a truck, but it's more like a fancy pickup than a tractor trailer. It's like a pre-Earth version of whatever Kup turns into - I smell repaint potential! The truck is low and long and at once round and angled. Orion Pax is a man bot of contradictions. The truck is 4⅝" long, 2" wide, and 1¾" tall, and all four wheels roll. You can plug both his weapons into the sides of the truck, though they look wildly out of place there.

Just as with Trailcutter, Orion Pax comes with a reprint comicbook meant to show the character off to new fans. This was a brilliant idea when ToyBiz did it with Marvel Legends and it's still a brilliant idea now. In this case, the comic in question is Spotlight: Orion Pax (as you may well have suspected). Reading this issue, it seems the main point was to explain why Orion Pax has this body instead of the other one he'd been drawn with before. Oh, it's still a decent story, but it just doesn't showcase Orion Pax the way it should. However, come on: it's Orion Pax. We need a backstory for Optimus Prime the way we need to see Superman or Spider-Man's origins on film again. The art on the cover is really creepy, too. This doesn't look like a young Optimus Prime, it looks geriatric.

This is a totally middle-of-the-road Transformer: not terrible, but not exceptional, either; the biggest point in his favor is the name "Orion Pax" on the packaging. But hey, that's a heckuva point! This is (functionally) the first-ever Orion Pax toy, and that's something to be excited about!

-- 12/24/13

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